Sunday, May 31, 2009
Hi VP's...Our wonderful fill-in...Doc Vic...has gone back to her daily grind, her cool little dog Andi, and her poor partner with the broken, throbbing arm. Thanks Cal for letting her come take care of Brenda, and of course, thanks Vic for being such a dear friend. It was perfect timing for all those doctor appointments to be able to translate their medical "bullets." When I'm here at those appointments I just sit there with a glazed over look in my eyes saying "What did he say? And what on earth does that mean?" All you non-med folks out there in VP-land know exactly what I'm talking about. GEEZS!
Hi from Taliesin,
A loud shout out to all of you converted Mac users...yahoo!! This is a MacBook Air that travels with me and is about to reveal a photo of our fab five who took an auto adventure to Taliesin, Wisconsin to see Frank Lloyd Wright's former home and studio. If you're a reader, a must pick is Loving Frank, the story of Frank's love affair with Mamah Cheny. This home, Taliesin, was built for them to share, although there's a sad ending. Okay, on behalf of our beloved Brenda, we're showing our strong support while inside the gift shop by selecting our favorite Taliesin tie. It comes with our love and healing karma.
Love from all to all (left to right),
Friday, May 29, 2009
Dee and Chemo Sabe,
HI ladies - Well Kim and I have some news to report. I feel a little awkward using the blog to report this as it represents making this type of change for the first time in over 20 years. Wendy and especially Karen, are not adapting to the news very well, so I will try to tread lightly. First a little background.
Cate and Amanda spent this past weekend in NYC. The Jersey girls, Kim, Wendy, Karen and I hooked up with them for a fun filled weekend. That was the plan anyway - nothing major just go with the flow and have fun.
That pretty much sums up how things were going. We had dinner on Friday talked about friends, life, family and the benefits and challenges with all of those topics. Very deep discussions peppered with a little bit of laughter.
Those conversations continued as we toured Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty on Saturday. In fact, Amanda made some very compelling points about the pitfall of staying in the same place, doing the same thing whilst expecting different results. I think she said it was the definition of psychotic. She was such a facilitator of change that she immediately got us an appointment with an expert to help us work out the finer points of any transition being contemplated. After all there are a lot of things to think about since people, finances and home arrangements are all considerations .
The result, I really am not happy with the status quo and in fact less happy with what were supposed to be positive changes. I made the decision, I need to make a change and need to do it soon. Needless to say Saturday was a relatively sleepless night.
Our house guests, Cate and Amanda were very supportive of my decision. Who knew, when we called Kim and Wendy in the morning, they were having the same conversations and needed to make a change as well. We met for brunch to see Cate and Amanda off as they traveled back home and Kim and I were left to sort out how we would individually and collectively manage the transition.
This past weekend, KIM and I made a decisionNot sure what you all were thinking but the news I have to share is that we each (individually) purchased iMACS.;-)
The struggle for Karen and Wendy is the move from PC based Microsoft Windows to the MAC OS. That shift has Karen very worried. I understand Wendy has adapted a bit better. Perhaps it is the result of her "CEO job" (tee hee) being less demanding than Karen's nursing responsibilities. Or maybe Kim allows her time to use the MAC. Regardless, we have moved to the enlightened side and I am sure once we get through the differences we will all be fine. That's where the self help books are coming in handy.
My MAC buddy, Kim, keeps asking why she has not made this move before. I'm speechless. I thought Vista would be the solution MicroSoft promised, instead it turned out to be worse than any other piece of software I have ever purchased. An additional bonus is I have a lot more real estate on and under my home office desk in spite of the fact the monitor is MUCH larger than my PC based desk top. No tower and one cord, period; that is a beautiful thing and the one benefit that already has Karen thinking positively. She HATES clutter. Best of all, within one half hour of taking the computer home, it was up and running, with all my PC based files transferred - seamlessly!!! Amanda and Cate thank you for opening our eyes to a better way.
Kim, my MAC buddy, next lesson with Nurse Dee - "skyping" - are you ready???
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Hi Everyone...I just got through SKYPING with Brenda and Vic. That is so much fun to do. If you don't have a computer with a camera...you should get one. Brenda looks great and I can see that the tumors in her neck have even gone down more since I've been gone. Maybe it's me leaving!!!! NAW!!!
Not too much news today but no kicks in the gut either (thank God for that). Yesterday was tough. Today was a little shopping excursion (Brenda picked out shoes for me to wear to my niece's wedding next month) followed by lunch out. Then we went to the medical center for a blood draw and an appointment with the radiation oncologist. There were no major plans made there because she needs to finish round three of chemo (that starts tomorrow for three days). After that she will most likely be scheduled for the neurosurgery in a few weeks (if the PET scan tomorrow is good). We got a lot of questions answered by the rad/onc nurse. The radiation won't start until she's healed from any surgery and that takes about four weeks. Surgery won't occur until a few weeks after round three of chemo. Then radiation will be five days a week for six to seven weeks. Head and neck radiation is tough because your throat gets so sore and it hurts to swallow. Staying hydrated and not losing weight are very important. We're looking at an all summer proposition here folks. Brenda is very strong but the enormity of it all is wearing on her. Keep your thoughts and prayers flowing. Keep the cards coming, she gets a big smile on her face when she gets them in the mail. Please post comments on the blog. It is very uplifting when she reads them.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Hi VP's...As you might remember, the union nurse is back on break in Arizona. Our dear, dear friend Vicky (internal medicine doc from Pittsburgh) volunteered for duty while I was home trying to keep this house running. This was the week that Brenda is seeing all her doctors who are weighing in on the recent CT scans and what to do next. They will give their input to Dr. Hong and he'll decide which path to take. Since Vic was there with Brenda when she had her appointments today, she wrote and excellent medical "bullet" for you all on how today's appointment went. Here's the update:
Brenda's lymph nodes are significantly smaller. Her white count is good and she won't need additional neupogen for this round. This morning she saw Dr. Hanna (an ENT surgeon who specializes in cranial base lesions). He did a fellowship at UPMC in Pittsburgh. His concern is a spot on the CT scan about the size of a penny. They cannot determine if it is up against the brain (the front part behind and slightly above the nose) or through the membrane that covers the brain (the dura). If it hasn't penetrated the dura it's less complicated.Dr. Hanna is proposing a neurosurgical procedure to remove that lesion. That would be done by a neurosurgeon. It would involve an incision behind the hairline from almost ear to ear. Then they fold down the skin and make a bone window to gain access to the lesion. They then repair the defect with her own tissue. It's on the surface of the brain so they don't have to cut through brain tissue to get to it (that's a good thing). It's also not in an area of the brain that controls speech or movement etc. They will be scheduling an appointment to see the neurosurgeon. If she has that surgery (because all of this is subject to change) she would be in the hospital for five days.
The blip in all this is a CT scan of the chest that showed a "prominent" diaphragmatic lymph node. It did not show any suspicious lesions in the chest, just a lymph node by the diaphram muscle that is prominent. We see reports like this all the time in medicine and usually they are nothing. They are going to do a PET scan to look at that. If it lights up it's suspicious. They are very thorough here and are leaving no stone unturned.
This afternoon she saw Dr. Gillenwater. She's the ENT doctor that saw Brenda when she first got here. She confirmed that the nodes are shrinking. She also said if they have to surgically remove any of the larger lymph nodes in her neck they would probably schedule both surgeries at the same time.
Tomorrow she sees the radiation oncologist and maybe the neurosurgeon if they can get her in. Then a big day on Thursday. She will have a PET scan at 9AM, an audiology appointment at 1:30PM and chemo for 7 hours beginning at 3:30PM. Then Friday another round of chemo in the afternoon.
Hope this helps,
Vicky (AKA: Ribby)
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Many of our Tahitian Pod Bloggers keep talking about "Blue Bonnet." For those of you who are wondering if we talking about margarine, the answer is NO! Blue Bonnet is a fellow traveler who has very sensitive skin that cannot be exposed to the sun. Now this persons skin might not like the sun, but the traveler really loves the ocean and beach so they have developed a sun-resistant clothing strategy to deal with this situation...Clever! We have wondered WHO this traveler was because all we see is a blue creature walking and wading around. Bonnie and Jackie as well as Jeannie have finally found out the true identity of our mystery traveler when they caught her in Tahiti unmasked. Here's the evidence. Jeannie got this photo of Michele. Here's what she had to say:
Michele has attempted to divert the Pod from the truth about
Blue Bonnet by making a half-hearted parody of herself. Attached is
the true unmasking of BB.
Michele...what say thee. We all KNOW you have SOMETHING to say.
Nurse Dee is home again on union break getting the garbage disposal fixed, taking care of a friends dog ( I LOVE this part!), getting the filters on the RO system changed, getting the air conditioners serviced...SUMMER'S coming to AZ, getting the desert bugs killed, getting a blood test, going to the doctor for my annual physical, cleaning the house, doing laundry...well you get my drift...yea right...a relaxing union break!! All I can say is...HA!!! Doc Vic and Brenda are hooping it up in Houston...that's good for Brenda...so as she would say..."It's all good."
Nurse (on break) Dee
Thursday, May 21, 2009
VP's...Yet again our one and only Michele has submitted a marvelous photo for our Texas Contest. I've also added a photo of the "Original Olivia Blue Bonnet" so you know the look that Michele was trying to achieve. You've almost got it nailed Michele...if you keep working on it, I know you'll achieve the essence of this utilitarian look. Here are Michele's comments:
So another photo for the "Big Texas" theme. See I do take poetic license and change things to suit my needs or in this case photo gallery. We are all familiar with the commercial "Everything's better with Blue Bonnet on it" right? Well, I now have proof. But like a cheap 3AM infomercial, that's not all. This is a multi purpose outfit that just has so many hidden messages:
#1. It is a Blue Bonnet - ring a bell for any of the Olivia travelers?
#2. I am "completely" covered from the sun. See above reference to Blue Bonnet.
#3. It has a chin strap because a girl never knows when she will need one :)
#4. It is a big hat - hence my segway to the Texas theme.
#5. I get to channel my inner "fly girl" - not pilot - rather the insect. Apparently, I can be a bit of a pest at times - who knew?
#6. I get to stop picking on Kim and Wendy, if for only one day.
#7. And finally, it keeps Chemo sabe and Dee laughing. If we can do that at least once a day than life is good.
Michele just sent me the final sentencing of those guilty Aussies and their accomplice Karen. Check it out:
So Wendy challenged me and failed. Of course there has to be repercussions. In this case, off to jail at the Irish Famine Monument in NYC. Not only did she go down (no pun intended) but she also took down the Yankee cap, Kim and Karen.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
VP's...I don't know how they do this, but Bonnie and Jackie have discovered another latent talent of Brenda's. I've been living with her practicing at all hours of the day and night and I'm so delighted that the secret has finally been uncovered. Now when we're all on vacation together you can encourage our girl to go up on the Olivia stage and "blow a few bars!" Somehow that just doesn't sound quite right. Early in Brenda's discovery of her love for the harmonica, she did have an American Idol try-out, but alas, she blew it!!! (Puns are so much fun!) I still don't know how these gals found out Brenda's secret...perhaps they heard her practicing in our room on the Paul Gauguin. Here's what Bonnie and Jackie had to say:
With the American Idol finals playing in the background (what a surprise, Chris just won; Adam was the favorite), we would like to offer a viable contestant for the next season. Although her musical style is a spin off from the singing tradition, Brenda's harmonica skills are exceptional. See what you think! There must be a way to add music to the photo (believe me I've tried), but the link below the photo will have to work so that you can hear Brenda's performance of "Home on the Range". Now, she's been practicing quite some time, so please give her the respect that she's due!Love, Bonnie and Jackie
Okay, a little background:
Here is another excerpt from the NYC trip. It was about 85 degrees in New York city when we took this tour. It was an absolute gorgeous day and one where we thought the NY Yankees cap would shine. To that end, we tried to highlight the cap as much as possible.
I first feel compelled to qualify that when I say trip, it really means we took the PATH across the Hudson River to NYC from NJ. It is a 15 minute trip.
Now for Kim and Wendy, when these gals first came to the USA, co-workers directed them to the PATH; they just forgot to tell them it was a train, not a walkway. Who knew Australia (from this point forward known as OZ) was so literal? So to be clear, PATH is a four letter acronym for Port Authority Trans Hudson - it's a train!!. Okay class over, I'll get on with the photo description. Kim and Wendy - you are safe for now. Karen, put your seat belts on.
Most of you know my partner Karen (AKA McGuyver/ AKA Poor Karen). I know her as a great sport that tolerates me unconditionally, which is not always an easy thing to do. I also know her as someone that I can talk into just about anything and this photo is yet another example.
So let's review, 85 degrees in NYC and we (yes - Kim and Wendy were a part of this one) convince Karen that she should take the NY Yankees cap to Antarctica (work with me here). As imaginations wander, we wondered - how would a girl dress for such a trip. Poor Karen. So we went to Paragon Sporting Goods for an outfit. This particular parka weighs about 20 pounds (9 kilos in OZ).
Well, as you know my attention waxes and wanes and I am easily distracted. So we start to dress 'poor Karen' in this get up and my job was to take the photo. Sounds easy, but the buttons and zippers and all the prep - well I got impatient and wandered. Unusual I know, but I did. Soon Kim joined my wandering and then Wendy.
The three of us looked at outdoor clothing, luggage, jackets, bicycles, camping equipment, etc. It felt like an hour passed before I asked - "hey did anyone see Karen". It was at that moment we heard this faint call "guys? guys are you there"? "Michele? Kim? Wendy? anyone - help", "this coat is so heavy I can't move and I'm melting - guys? - anyone?".
Oh man, that wandering was hard to explain. It got worse when I asked if she was still up for posing for a photo; especially when I asked her to smile for the shot (Chemo sabe - she was the clear smile was for you - not me). As you can see she did a great job, but boy was she perturbed. Just a note for the law enforcement folks on the blog - she did threaten my life. Perhaps justified, but a threat none-the-less. Just in case I should accidentally show up wandering on the PATH under the Hudson River, inappropriately dressed in an Antarctica Parka. A big clue - look at Karen and the girls from OZ.
Really?? Questioning me - that was actually Karen you heard gasp (and maybe me a bit. :) This blog is a tough crowd.
I know that I take poetic license with stories and facts, but in this case let's look at the photo sans the sombrero.
Just for the record - we knew you as the girls from OZ that Brenda met in Barbados. At the time you wore blue and red caps. We liked you because they were Yankee caps. However, over time, I have learned your identity (unless you are now going to switch ). So hopefully I did get this right otherwise this upcoming weekend is going to be awkward and I'll have to bring the name tags, whine and wine.
So, for the objective folk on the blog - the facts and nothing but the facts. This is a photo of Karen in blue - I would know her anywhere. The lovely Kim in the white blouse with the vertical stripes; and oh my is that Wendy with a red blouse and horizontal stripes?????? And for those of you that do not know me, I am the one on the end in the orange blouse - cute right?.
Now let's examine - is that the same red horizontal striped blouse the model with the aforementioned yellow hat and suspect polka dot purse was modeling??? Don't let the shades fool you - that is Wendy!! Coincidence - I think not.
Shhhh, quiet. Did you all hear that? I think I heard an "I'm sorry in Australian". For the punishment, I prefer beer - thank you very much. I like light beer so I keep my girlish figure.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
VP's...I got this note from Windy with an "E." It appears there is some dispute over the gal in the yellow hat....hummmmmmm! Could Michele actually be mistaken with the identity of this hat-wearer? Here's what Wendy wanted you all to know:
THIS ISN”T A PHOTO OF ME……….I think there has been some sort of mistake (I just heard Michele gasp). I offer the following as evidence.
1. I never wear vertical and horizontal stripes at the same time – anyone who knows me knows I would never make such a faux pas
2. I would not be caught dead in vertical stripes and polka dots or horizontal stripes and polka dots, let alone vertical stripes, horizontal stripes and polka dots at the same time (try saying that out loud….what a mouthful!!)
3. I never, ever wear yellow. I’m a gold girl with diamonds added for sparkle
4. I can’t wear big hats……….I seem to get lost in them. Caps are more my style
5. I don’t wear a hat when I’m out because I suffer badly from the after effects, eg: hat hair!
6. I would never just try on a hat……what if the last person that did had nits!
7. I am very shy and would never think of doing such an attention drawing thing like trying on such a silly hat
8. OK if you didn’t believe the last one….I’m an exhibitionist (and in good company given the entries in the hat competition) and therefore would make sure my fat little cheeks were on display (maybe I should have said face instead of cheeks!)
So it’s rather obvious that as hard as it is to believe, MICHELE has made a MISTAKE, an ERROR, a BLOOPER, a BLUNDER, a GOOF in saying this is a photo of that lovely Aussie named Wendy with an ‘E’.
I accept apologies in writing Michele. As is a case of wine just in case I can’t understand your American version of an apology!
Monday, May 18, 2009
The Aussies wanted dearly to participate in the "hat contest". You all saw their submission - "beach cap with flowers" submitted back in April. That hat was modeled by the lovely Kim.
Now we are learning that Wendy is apparently very competitive and wanted her own entry. Still struggling with the language differences between Australia and the US, Wendy translated Texas to mean country. I thought about reviewing geography and the differences between states and countries, but after careful consideration, I changed my mind. I choose my battles wisely and thought the geography lesson would be an up hill battle since they hail from a country that is also a continent.Anyway, Wendy channeled "Minnie Pearl" (the country piece) to submit this entry in the Texas contest. Her rationale, the hat is large, as is Texas. Minnie Pearl was country, which is also associated with Texas. She updated the concept a bit to portray the progressive nature of Australia and left the security tag on versus the price tag. Clever modification Kim. Sounds prudent so far, but look closely. Our friend actually thought the vertical stripes on the hat would work with the horizontal stripes on her blouse. That is just plain silly. Oh, and what is up with the polka dot purse in her right hand???? I did not even want to ask but perhaps you all are a lot braver than me and will make the appropriate inquiries (enquiries in Australian - goodness - it is hard being bilingual).
More to come.
A few weeks back, Karen, Kim, Windy and I went to NYC for the day. We toured a few neighborhoods and purchased what we thought would be a good gift for Brenda's oncologist - a Yankee Baseball cap. So I know you are thinking - Wow what could possibly beat that? I know, I am trying to figure that out as well, but it is pink, and pink is associated with the cure for cancer . Put them both together and we thought we found the perfect gift.
Then horror of all horrors - her doc is a BOSTON RED SOX FAN - oh my god.
Well, my friends, I am a die-hard Yankee fan. For those of you from the east coast, you know there is no love lost between the Yankees and the Red Sox. We just don't mix well. Kind of like gun powder and a match.
Now I know this blog is not about the Yankees. It is about Brenda and Dee and keeping the laughter flowing while Brenda gets well. I just hope that what Brenda's oncologist lacks in selecting sports teams he overcompensates for in his medical expertise as he cure's our gal.
As the week goes by and my travel schedule permits, I'll send some photos of "the hat" and the gals in NYC.
Boston Red Sox - that's ridiculous!!!
Friday, May 15, 2009
VP's...Brenda's Mom finally confided a little known secret about Brenda...and we have the evidence to prove it! It seems that Brenda has actually been a frustrated Texan since early childhood. As you all know she has a deep devotion to the Lone Ranger and Tonto. Although she is currently playing out her "Tonto" personality, in her youth, she was fixated on working on her "Lone Ranger" personality. She even went so far as to secretly purchased a white cowboy hat to truly channel the essence of the masked man.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
VP's...if you haven't guessed from my posts last week...Brenda and I are HUGE "Survivor" fans. And YES!!!...Coach got kicked out of the jungle this week. We're so happy. Well we have a tradition that we started when my brother was living with us. It's called Pre-Survivor "NUMMY." Now that is different than our "Survivor Finale Celebration," but we both got a sweet attack this afternoon and it ended up with...a NUMMY!
VP's...One of our favorite commentators is back from the beaches of Columbus Isle, and has caught up with her work enough to send us some thoughts on the new Texas Project!! Take it away Michele...
Okay - a little funny...
I'm looking at the pictures of our 'Pittsburgh Cowboys' and thinking, shouldn't that be Pittsburgh Steeler's or perhaps Dallas Cowboys? Something is wrong here.
It is at that moment that my little mind goes right to the Bon Jovi song - "Wanted dead or Alive".There is a line in the song - "on a steel horse I ride...." Yes, for those of you that know me, my minds' eye went to a vision of Vic and Cal riding a steel horse. Now I do not have any photos of them riding a steel horse, just a vivid, warped mind.
What I do have is a picture of a Steel Cowboy. This photo was taken during a hike Karen and I took with our lovely friend Helene when we were in Prague waiting for the rest of the travel Pod.
As you can see it was a gorgeous day and after we hiked up and down about fifty hills (Helene is from Norway and "Loves" to hike). We were walking around the top of a hill and spotted this little COWBOY on a rooftop patio.
HA - beat that Texas!!
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
For the Texas contest, I'd just like to say that Cal and I were cowgirls long before it was fashionable. This photo was taken on Dee Dee's 60th birthday (we won't tell how long ago that was).
We flew in from Pittsburgh to surprise her (and it's not easy to put one over on peeker!) Brenda was in on it of course. The plan was that Brenda would take Dee to dinner at Cowboy Ciao in Scottsdale for her birthday. We flew in that day and Lynn picked us up at the airport (our flight was due at 3:15 PM and dinner was at six).Of course on the flight out there was an in flight announcement (by a panicked flight attendant asking if there was a doctor on board). I was in the back of the plane and ran to the front along with a male passenger. He was a nurse and I was the doctor (you have to love that part.) Anyway we get to the front of the plane and there is this 80 something lady slumped back in her seat wearing a royal blue outfit that exactly matched the color of her lips! Her eyes were rolled back in her head and she was just coming around as we got to the seat. Apparently she stood up and passed out. We gave her oxygen and took her vitals. Her blood pressure was about 80/40 and she was nauseated.Within a couple minutes her pressure was up to normal and the blue lips went away. She was fairly healthy and took her blood pressure pills that day and probably didn't drink much so when she stood up her BP dropped and she fainted. She kept insisting she was okay and I sat next to her for the rest of the flight. She almost threw up on me but we got the barf bag out in time. I was fairly certain it was nothing serious but she was old and you can never know for sure.Good samaritan laws aside, you can still get sued for helping someone if there's a bad outcome. So, when the flight attendant said, "Doctor, the captain would like to know if you think we need to make an emergency landing?" I had to swallow hard.....after all we had a surprise party to get to. I asked how long until we get to Phoenix and the answer was 55 minutes. I looked at the blue lady and I looked at my watch and thought, "I can do CPR for 55 minutes ! " "I think she'll be just fine." I said. As it turned out we got a priority approach to Phoenix and were on the ground in 25 minutes.We made it to the restaurant in plenty of time and snapped this picture before Dee arrived. Now those of you who don't know me, if you remember the Dr. Beaver Inspector photo you will understand that this is not my real hair (or Callie's).
When Dee got to the restaurant we were hiding at the bar which is kind of around the bend from the entrance. It was kind of dark with a little back lighting so if you did see us from the entrance it would be kind of a silhouette and it would be hard to make out our faces. The wait staff were in on the joke so they told Dee they didn't have a reservation for her. So while Dee was being upset about the missing reservation we had the waitress take her a drink and say that those ladies at the bar wanted to buy her a drink. You could see her straining to figure out who we were and there was absolutely no recognition on her face. In fact our fearless police chief was hiding behind Brenda. She thought Brenda had hired some strippers! We started walking toward her and she wouldn't come out from behind Brenda. When she finally figured it out we all cracked up. We still laugh about it. Brenda finally was able to pull off a birthday surprise for Dee!....and the blue lady.....as far as I know she's still fine.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Hi Everyone...while Brenda sleeps and sleeps and sleeps and sleeps here on the couch (this round of "CURE Juice" has really kicked her butt)...our one and only Michele has e-mailed me with our first...and hopefully not the last..."TEXAS" contest submission.
So here is my first Texas entry, or perhaps it is more of an apology for the "unedited" version of this photo I submitted back in April. Regardless, this beauty is titled "Only as big a state as Texas could have a flag large enough to cover Chemo sabe's .........."
Monday, May 11, 2009
OK VP's...it's time to stimulate those creative juices of yours and announce our second contest. We just had so much fun and so many great laughs with the first one that we HAD to start another. Michele helped us think of some contest possibilities so I think we'll have a few more opportunities for you all to keep us in laughs.